Preserving the Idea of Pennsylvania Station

From the New York Times:

July 7, 2007
Senator Moynihan’s Legacy

For years now, plans and sometimes mere illusions about ways to replace New York City’s dismal and disheartening Penn Station have been debated, mostly behind closed doors. Now comes the good news that developers Stephen Ross and Steven Roth will finally make public their proposal to revive the drab area around Penn Station and create a grand new terminal, named for the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

When the plan is revealed New Yorkers should focus on one concern: whether the historic public spaces are being shortchanged once again in favor of private developments.

As outlined in The Times this week by Charles Bagli, the development would move the station into the elegant old Farley Post Office and turn a central courtyard into a vast soaring terminal to rival Grand Central’s. A new and improved Madison Square Garden would also shift from its perch above the present Penn Station to the area behind the terminal.

So far, that sounds terrific.

The question for the public and especially for Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who has the final say on development and historical preservation of this landmarked site, is whether the new Garden will dominate the new Penn Station just as the present Garden does the old one.

With each bit of news that seeps out about these plans, it looks more and more as though the Garden will be allowed to take over most of the magnificent Farley building, including its dramatic stairway entrance and the elegant lobby that stretches along most of a city block. One main wall of the central terminal might also be used for Garden advertising.

Madison Square Garden’s owners will have a very good deal when they move to the new site. But this time they have to stand in line behind the public.

One can only imagine Senator Moynihan’s eloquent disappointment if he thought that the Farley building he worked so hard to protect would not be a soaring entrance for the trains and the city but a route through a public treasure to a privately owned coliseum.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Posted Under: Public Building, Transportation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *